Written by Megan of Stetted.
For families with kids, doing the weekly shopping is something that often strikes dread into the heart of every parent. From crying and begging to full-on, lay-on-the-ground-and-kick tantrums that seem to occur at a pin drop, shopping can be exhausting. But taking the opportunity to teach your kids about what they eat and where it comes from can transform the experience from terror to – dare I say it? – fun.
Here’s how you do it.
Before You Go
Have a list
However you plan for the week ahead, having a list of items to buy is essential when the kids are along for the ride. Temptations abound, even in the healthiest of markets and stores, and having a list is one way to tamp down clamors for treats. Ask the kids for their input as you make the list. If they know you’ll be buying apples, they are less likely to call out for candy bars once at the store.
Going shopping while hungry results in overpurchasing, and hungry, cranky kids can easily cloud your food judgment. Try to shop right after a meal instead of after school or naptime, when the little ones will surely be hungry.
While You Shop
Talk about it
Talk to your kids about what you’re buying. It may seem silly to tell a baby about zucchini and what you plan to make with it, but consider it practice for explaining the building blocks of healthful eating as your children get older. Kids are curious and want to know everything about everything, and with its wide variety, the grocery store or local market is a good location for education.
My son can name an impressive number of fruits and vegetables, and I know at least some of that comes from his many trips with me to the farmers’ market and grocery store. Kids love to show off what they know. Spending a few extra minutes in the produce section asking your child about the latest featured item will not only build their knowledge, but also help them know their presence is valued.
Put them in charge
Grocery shopping is a great way for kids to practice their reading skills. Remember that list we made before leaving the house? Let your early reader take charge of all or a portion of the list. If they’re learning mathematics, discuss counting, sale prices, and weights.
Let them choose
I let my son pick out at least one item every time we go shopping. No, this does not mean candies or other items that are restricted in our home! Choose from a specific section of the store, whether it be the fruit, the bakery, or the dried grains. My son loves visiting the fish counter to select a filet and choosing pumpkins at the fall fair. This helps connect him to the food we’ll be preparing for dinner later and makes him much more likely to eat it.
While you’re likely to experience a transition period, and not every shopping trip will be a dream, sparking your child’s curiosity in food can help lead to a lifelong interest in healthful eating, cooking, or even farming. It’s never to early or too late to begin.
Do you take your kids shopping with you? Why or why not?